IT'S REALLY OVER...SIGH
9 February 2005
I arrived home from my overnight in the Bay Area and three furry little bodies rushed out from their cage to greet me. There was also a message from Walt saying to call Ashley. Sigh. The time had come.
I had one last cuddle with the puppies, fed them, watched them poop all over everywhere and go back to sleep.
Before I knew it, Ashley was there with their two sisters, who have been bottlefed elsewhere. Soon the puppies will all be together in a place out in the country where they will have lots of room to run, which they need. Very sad to carry them to the car. Jed was the last one in, and nibbled my chin and licked my nose one last time.
I waited until I got inside the house before I cried.
However, life goes on and the journal must now find other things to talk about, so let's talk about my lovely day yesterday. I dropped Walt at his dentist's office in Berkeley, and then made my way over to my mother's house, where I got a chance to read for two hours before she got home from her volunteer work at the Hospice of Marin thrift shop. I was reading The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. I know somebody recommended it to me and I was sure it was Steve, but he had never heard of it. Very good book. I recommend it highly.
My mother and I had a nice lunch and spent time working a frustrating puzzle that my cousin had given her for Christmas. My mother is the jigsaw puzzle queen, so we enjoyed the work, but it sure was slow going.
When it was time to leave, I set out for the Golden Gate Bridge. It was such a beautiful clear day and I was going to go up into the headlands to take a picture of the bridge with the city behind it, but a cloud had passed over the city, so it wasn't clear and bright, but the bridge itself was in sun and I stopped a couple of times to take pictures. I swear, there is no bigger "tourist" in San Francisco than I am--and it's my home town!
I drove out along the ocean beach to watch the crashing waves, and down to the airport, arriving still about 20 minutes too early, so I found a street and just parked and continued to read my book. Then after only three cell phone calls (one from me, 2 from Steve), we found each other at the door to baggage claim and we were off on another adventure to Stanford--our fourth time at Stanford together.
We arrived about 45 minutes before the class and wandered around a bit, taking pictures. As an old Cal person, I just loved this graffiti on the wall of the theatre building of Cal's rival school...
We were once again in a graduate business class in pharmaceutical ethics. Steve was a guest in this class last year. The students have already had visits from heads of pharmaceutical companies and I don't know what else, but Steve is the only person who can speak to the view of a patient.
He was introduced by running the flash introduction to his journal on the screen, which was pretty funny.
Then four students gave a presentation on the topic of the evening, which was the development of the drug Crixivan, the drug Steve credits with saving his life, and the ethics involved with producing, pricing and distributing the drug. It was fascinating when you think about a pharmaceutical company having this drug that they think will help people who are dying, but it hasn't received FDA approval, and even if it does, they don't have the capacity to produce enough for everyone with HIV--so how do you decide who gets the drug, and when, and can you do a blind study, where some people get the drug and some don't, if the ones who aren't on the study are going to die and the ones who are on the drug have a chance to live. Plus the fact that you have to be able to afford to make the drug, and your investors expect a profit, but you don't want to price the drug so high that only the richest people can afford it. They covered it from all angles and brought up questions that would never have entered my head, but which were valid points.
One thing hit me most about this presentation, especially when one guy was speaking, because he had the section of the presentation that dealt with numbers and bar graphs and that sort of thing. They were each standing there talking about infected people and "AIDS activists" and statistics and I realized that probably none of those people had ever known someone with HIV or full-blown AIDS, had ever lost someone to AIDS, and had probably never met an AIDS activist or understood fully the need for groups like Act-Up to demonstrate back in the 80s when people were dying right and left and nobody seemed to care.
Their facts and their presentation were very scholarly, but I was looking at Steve, and thinking of Dickie, Steve's best friend who died a few years back, and of Michael from whom I have learned so much about Act-Up and who has given me a whole new respect for the people who were instrumental, really, in changing the face of medicine today. I thought of all the people I know who have lost their lives to AIDS and it was difficult to see them as points on a bar chart.
Which is the value of having Steve there, of course, because he can put a face on the patient whose life is being affected by the decisions that are being made by the pharmaceutical companies, as well as talk about how people got around the black and white rules for testing the drug, etc.
The group ended their presentation with a quote by author Barbara Ehrenreich, which perfectly summed up the situation with AIDS drugs: "From the point of view of the pharmaceutical industry, the AIDS problem has already been solved. After all, we already have a drug which can be sold at the incredible price of $8, 000 an annual dose, and which has the added virtue of not diminishing the market by actually curing anyone."
After the presentation, we went to a fabulous seafood restaurant, where we were treated to a delicious meal of sand dabs, which I'd never had before, but they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Interesting role reversal. Steve usually eats all of his dinner and half of mine, but this time since we both ordered sand dabs, I not only ate all of mine, but also tasted the crab cakes he ordered as an appetizers as well.
Then back to the home where we stayed a year ago, this gorgeous showplace high up on a hill overlooking Palo Alto. There is a "guest wing," where Steve and I each had our own bedroom and baths. I sat up reading until about 11 and then sent to sleep, but I was wide awake (with my usual back pain) at 3 a.m., so by 4 I was out in the central "lounge" of the guest wing reading. Steve joined me at 4 and we both sat there reading (one of us was snoring...ahem...) until our hostess came to let us know she was making coffee/tea for us.
I dropped Steve off at the SF airport by 8 a.m., or a bit before, and came on home, to be greeted for the last time by my babies. Now life picks up where it left off four weeks ago.
Sure was nice while it lasted. And I can hardly wait for another month, when the puppies are old enough to go up for adoption and I can see how much they've grown between now and then.
Oh--I found out I've been
mistaken on their breed. I thought there was
PHOTO OF THE DAY
It ain't puppies, but at least it's pretty...